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Venezuela and Political Oil

            Venezuela is one of the top five oil exporters in the world. Almost 100 billion dollars of oil was exported from Venezuela in 2010. Venezuela is the country in the western hemisphere with the largest reserves of light and crude oil. Prior to the Spanish conquest of Venezuela, Venezuelan natives used oil that seeped through the ground for medicine, fire source and caulking for canoes. Using techniques taught to them by the natives, the Spanish conquistadors were making use of the oil. At first, they found that their ships could benefit from the caulking techniques used by natives. Then the Spaniards discovered they could use the oil to help maintain their weapons. The first documented shipment of oil from Venezuela was in the year 1539, when the colonial government sent a single barrel of oil to Spain in an attempt to cure kind Charles V of his illness.
             We also begin to see the increase of the Venezuelan oil industry in the years between 1908 and 1940. Even though Venezuela has had oil for thousands of years and has used it, oil was not drilled for in the country until the year 1908. Then President Juan Vicente Gomez took over for his ill ridden predecessor, Cipriano Castro. Within the next couple of years, Gomez granted a couple of concessions to look for, drill and refine oil. Some of these oil concessions were given to some of Gomez's friends, in which they turned around and aligned themselves with foreign oil companies that would be able to make use of such concessions. One of these concessions was granted to a man called Rafael Max Vallardes. He then went to the Caribbean Petroleum to work on an oil exploration project in Venezuela. On April 15th 1914 Mene Grande (mene is the traditional word used by the indigenous population of Venezuela to describe oil), Venezuela's first major oil field, was discovered by the Caribbean Oil company. These discoveries lead to the massive influx of foreign oil companies into Venezuela.

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